Upside down in the Moth House

/ in Know Your Moths by Marek
Photo of me taking a photo of the underside of a moth resting on a glass pain we suspended on the underside of a tray
Thinking inside the box!

I thought it would be novel to expand on the Convolvulus Hawk-moth I nearly missed earlier this week as it highlights a number of areas important if, like me, you record moths.

The first is obvious in that it is always a good idea even when you think you have finished recording the morning catch to take another thorough last look around the trap.

I have on many occasions found the best record of the day has managed to elude me for most of the morning as was the case with this one.

I think the change in the light during the morning plays an important part in whether you spot some of the more camouflaged subjects.

The second area for thought is double checking your identifications as in this case I assumed that I recognised this moth knowing that we already had a complete set of shots for the site, but I had not considered gender.

As I never want to detain my quarries any longer than necessary, I had released this moth gently onto a bush not frequented by the local sparrow population in the front garden.

It was some time later as I was about to consider breakfast that my wife mentioned that maybe I had been a bit premature in releasing this particular specimen as he was a male as oppose to the shot of a female we already had displayed on the site.

Normally there is no significant difference between male and female moths to justify an extra page.

In this case however I was instructed by the main identifications expert that if the difference warranted an extra picture in the Field Guide then we should do the same for our site.

So, with my tail between my legs I went back to the front garden to try to recover from my error and, as luck would have it, he had settled down for a good days sleep exactly where I had left him.

Side by side top down shot of the male and female Convolvulus Hawk-moth
A perfect match

I have learnt from experience that the best way to get the pictures I want for the site is to cause as little distress as possible as when they are settled, they are normally happy to stay that way long enough for the photo shoot.

So once happily resting on my grey background mat they do not really want to be encouraged to take up residence on a piece of glass so that I can attempt an underside shot.

This location move for some moths serves to my advantage as they manage to get a good foothold on the glass which just gives me sufficient time to take a shot whilst animated before, of course, they decide that enough is enough.

Again, as they say knowledge is power and I know perfectly well that it can be rather tasking to take an underside shot of a Hawk moth as although they can cling to most things especially fingers, they are not quite so keen on glass.

If you tip the glass vertical, they slide down to the bottom majestically and the thought of tipping them upside down like the pugs and some micros is definitely a no, no.

I am getting too old to lie on the lawn whilst the missus holds the glass horizontal and the moth on the glass just above.

And to be honest the chances of getting a stacked shot from that position is, in my opinion, impossible although I have tried on numerous occasions.

As a retired engineer however, where there is a will there is always a way as now portrayed on our site